There is not only a lot to celebrate when you think about the diversity of people who make up our community, and therefore the clients of your services, but there are also a lot of opportunities to do the celebrating. There are national and international days now for almost everything – some of them are really just a lot of fun, like International Talk Like a Pirate Day and International Lefthanders Day – but a lot of them are really great opportunities to pull out all stops to celebrate the huge range of things that people can be.
And let’s face it – everyone loves a celebration. It’s fun, it lifts spirits, it builds connection and community, and it makes us all feel better about who we, and each other, are.
There can be some really simple things you can do in your service to make those celebrations alive a vibrant for your clients. It doesn’t matter whether you have people at your service who identify with the communities that the various International Days commemorate – but of course it’s great if you do and, more likely than not, you will.
Here’s a list of some of the days you might like to think about including in your service’s program of celebrations:
- May 15 International Day of Families
- May 17 International Day against homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia
- May 21 World Day for Cultural Diversity
- May 27-June 3 National Reconciliation Week (including May 26, National Sorry Day)
- 1 June Global Day of Parents
- 7 June Ramadan begins
- 19-25 June Refugee Week
- 20 June World Refugee Day
- 3-10 July NAIDOC week
- 7 July Eid Al Fitr
A good way to plan for these days is to include your clients in discussions about what might be done. Even planning a celebration can be as much fun, and as strongly building of community, as the celebration itself.
Each of these days celebrate different people, cultures and events. They all generate their own possibilities for something to mark the day. A day that celebrates families and parents, for example, could be celebrated by people sharing photos of their own families, their own children and parents, or telling stories. Your clients’ families could be encouraged to come along and be part of this.
For a day like International Day against homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia, you could show a film like Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.
On days that celebrate particular cultures, or commemorate important events in their history, such as Sorry Day or the beginning of Ramadan, you could bring into your service a representative of the community being marked by the day, and they could chat with clients about the history of their culture, or even just tell their own personal story as an indigenous person, a Muslim person, and so on. Imagine the stories that could be told about the thousands of years of Aboriginal history of the place at which your service is located! Foods from different cultures could be part of the day, or displays of art and music.
For something like Refugee Week, chances are that there are people using your service who have themselves come from backgrounds where they needed to flee persecution and war. Many will still have memories and stories to share. You could spend a day encouraging them to do this, find pictures and old newspaper clippings about the journeys people have made to Australia, and have them on display throughout your service. Libraries and the Internet can be great sources for this sort of archival material.
All of these celebrations provide you with the opportunity to involve the outside community in your service, too. There are community organisations that are devoted to each of the issues commemorated on these days, and many of them will be more than keen to engage with the people using your service.
The possibilities are endless – and the important thing to do is to try to think what will resonate with and connect to the people who use your service. Even though some of these days are about very serious issues, the day can still be about having fun, sharing yarns, and encouraging respect. It’s a chance to discover, and to rediscover, that, regardless of age, life and communities are full of different histories, different stories, different ways of celebrating what it means to be a person.
Agility can help aged care, health and disability services with planning these sorts of days. We can come and spend time with your staff and talk about strategies you might want to adopt for planning a celebration with your service users in a way that will be meaningful for them, and in which they can be genuinely and meaningfully included. We can also help you to get media to your event to highlight your diversity and ability to connect with community.
No one should miss out on a chance for a party, or simply to sit down and listen to someone else tell an amazing tale about an amazing past.
For more on making your service accessible to a diverse range of people see Are your aged care services inclusive and supportive of your LGBTI clients